Let me say up front, there hasn't been a lot that Mayor Segarra hasn't done that I have believed in and wanted to support. As much as I sit here writing this and want to believe in the Rockcat's deal it is just not adding ,up to me. Hartford needs a solid homerun, more likely a grand slam homerun.But we have come to expect the balk instead.
Would anyone go out and buy a brand new Mercedes, fully financed at a high interest rate, when you honestly know the best you could probably afford was the used Hyundai. It sure does make a good show if you went for the new Mercedes, even if you know you can't afford it, but for the short term people might be bluffed into thinking you are doing something right until it is repossessed out of your driveway some night when you default on the payments
Like I said before, Hartford does need some big hits, I think the last large economic development project in Hartford was Walmart Plaza, quite a few years ago. The convention Center and Adrian's Landing were State Projects.
I have so many issues with the project, but I really do want to believe. The first being the issue of how this all started. We really don't appreciate it when Windsor, Bloomfield or Rocky Hill poach our businesses. Do we really want to get into poaching wars with our neighbors. We rellay didn't appreciate losing ING or Met Life to the suburbs. I'll give Rocky Hill a pass on poaching WFSB3 because they really weren't poached as much as they were pushed by a former Mayor and his Chief of Staff.
But back to the Rockcat's. There weren't any other teams that Hartford could have approached to lure to Hartford? And what type of business plan is behind the Rockcats. It just confuses me why the teams owners would leave a City that from all appearances has treated them well, and $100,000.00 in annual rent seems like a bargains for what New Britain provides in return.Why would you leave that and go to Hartford to pay, in the beginning, $500,00.00 a year in rent. Not to mention essentially doubling your tax bill for every piece of equipment, every computer, every piece of training equipment, anything owned by the team will now come under Hartford's highest mill rate in the State, almost double the Hardware City's.
That high mill rate has been a deterrent to economic development in Hartford, and if a poaching war begins, it will be a definite advantage to any town trying to lure Hartford companies away. "Come to our Town and we can help cut your tax bill in half" . Business is about the bottom line and increasing profits , and most smart business owners would most likely be willing to listen that pitch. And as we can see from the Solomon family, the days of corporate loyalty and keeping your word to your hometown mean nothing.
The other major factor about this is the major question looming in most Hartford's residents minds is "will this work?" and "who will pay when it doesn't?". As I am here writing this I am listening to the Hartford Police Radio and hearing the almost constant calls for guns, spot shotter activations, and the number of calls being dispatched for assaults, fights and other serious matters. Wait until the summer actually starts and the warm weather arrives
Yet as this plan is being shoved down our throats by Segarra, it is hard to conceive that a City as broke as Hartford, a city that has cut Police classes, a City that has sold off assets and forced people out of their homes by selling tax liens. A city that has a hard time repairing potholes because of a lack of funds, a city that has had school ceilings collapse on students because they haven't allocated funds for repairs. It just doesn't make sense to me but I really do want to believe.
I also take Governor Malloy on his word that he is keeping out of this, I doubt he want's to see two cities battling. I do have to be a little suspicious that two of the City assets that Segarra and Council President Shawn Wooden just sold to the State of CT, will almost be touching the sidewalks surrounding the stadium, The Morgan Street Garage and the Church Street Garage. What did they disclose to the state about the possibility of a Stadium locating within feet of the garages, and could we have sweetened the deal if the State knew?
As much as the State claims they are staying hands off on the deal, I fully expect UCONN to announce that they are buying in to the plan,.Any day now I bet we hear that this will also be the new home of UCONN baseball. At least it would make a little more sense than putting the full burden of the backs of Hartford's taxpayers, spread the wealth statewide.
And the 600 jobs? That figure comes out of the same consultant report that states the average median income for Hartford residents is $78,097.00. I think it is a lot close to $18,000.00. If Segarra is going to use "regional" numbers to justify this project as a regional attraction, then fund it and sell it that way. Let the suburbs buy into the wealth of Hartford. And to all those suburbanites that are touting this program as such a great idea, we have many vacant homes in Hartford awaiting your arrival. Come join us , we will gladly tax your vehicles at 78 mills to offset this latest corporate welfare.
Or if you still think it such a good idea, please ask your neighbors and local leaders to join us and buy into the program, so what if it raises your local taxes an outrageous amount to pay the $4.5 million per year debt service interest on the bond. Like you have written in your editorials and letters it is great for Hartford. I really want to believe that is true. And to my suburban neighbors, if you really want to share the wealth of Hartford and tell us what is best for us, we can even arrange for the suburbs to share a homeless shelter or two and maybe even a methadone clinic.
It is all about sharing the ambiance and what is best for Hartford.
I really do want to believe. As much as I like the evenings at Rockcat's Stadium, I wouldn't mind going to a game in Hartford. And just for the record, anytime I have gone to a game in New Britain, we have either tailgated on Franklin Giant grinders we brought or had our fill of Hot Dogs inside the stadium. And to the best of my recollection I don't recall ever renting a hotel room to stay overnight in New Britain and neither has anyone I've ever heard of, but I guess the Consultants know better. For what we are probably paying them for thier report, I sure hope they know what they are talking about.
Walter Harrison, the President of the University of Hartford,who is typically a cheerleader for Hartford, had an editorial in today's Courant. He raised some serious questions that the Hartford City Council needs to take seriously before they rubber stamp this deal. Unfortunately I am not sure that is going to happen since the Public Hearing is apparently scheduled for July 21, 2014 and the items for approval are on tomorrow nights Council Agenda. They will probably get referred to committee which would slow the process down for residents and taxpayers to actually voice their opinions, but this is Hartford so anything could happen http://www.courant.com/news/opinion/commentary/hc-op-harrison-pedro-swings-fences-with-rock-cats--20140606,0,2360532.story
But I guess according to the consultants, 23,700 people will use Hartford hotels for "annual room nights". I have a gut feeling that benefit will go across the bridge to East Hartford, but maybe we can close the bridges on game night. That would make about as much sense as the numbers in this report. I want to believe.
Their report will affect the financial health of Hartford and its residents for decades to come.Hopefully the State of Connecticut will be willing to buy this asset like it did the garages when the stadium is unable to attract visitors
Ok, time to wrap this up. My heels are getting sore from clicking them together and repeating "I Believe, I Believe" for almost a week now
Following the lead of our Honorable Mayor, Pedro Segarra, I want to state that I followed his lead and poached the Consultants report from Steve Goode's article in the Hartford Courant. Actually someone approached me and asked me to post it so it wouldn't end up on a Springfield Blog first, I am only trying to keep it in Connecticut